Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel was one of the most influential fashion designers in the 20th century. Her designs freed women of long skirts and intolerable corsets that dominated fashions for decades. Coco Chanel’s clothes were known for their comfort because they were often made of jersey, a fabric usually reserved for making men’s underwear. Coco herself said, “Fashion fades; only style remains the same.” Her words have proved true over 80 years later as Coco Chanel’s timeless fashions are still going strong.
The Little Black Dress
Coco Chanel introduced her little black dress in 1926, a time when black was only worn for funerals and periods of mourning. American Vogue compared it to the hard-working Model T Ford, and ran a sketch of Coco Chanel’s little black dress in their October 1926 issue. The original Chanel black dress was made of crepe de chine and featured long sleeves, a straight, knee-length skirt, and pin-tucks adorning the waist. Appeal for Coco Chanel’s little black dress quickly grew because of its simple yet elegant design, and its ability for it to be dressed up or down. Now the little black dress is considered a staple in every woman’s fashion wardrobe. Famous women like Princess Diana and Nicole Kidman are wearers of Coco Chanel’s little black dress.
The Classic Chanel Suit
1925 brought the unveiling of Coco Chanel’s signature suit, with straight lines, a boxy collarless jacket adorned with subtle trim, and a matching knee-length skirt. It was based on the design of a man’s suit but with feminine details. Coco Chanel was known for using easily affordable fabrics, so her signature suit was made in tweed. Nowadays, Chanel customers can obtain a ready-to-wear Chanel suit, or have a suit custom-made in a variety of fabrics and colors.
The Sailor Striped Top and Bell Bottom Pants
Again, Coco Chanel broke all the fashion rules of the time and became famous for being the first woman to wear pants. This was legendary for this French designer because in 1799, Paris had actually passed a law banning women for wearing pants. Her first pants outfit was a blue and white striped sailor top and bell bottom pants, said to be inspired by the sailors that Coco Chanel saw in the French Navy.
Even though Coco Chanel died in 1971, the Chanel name carries on as one of the top selling fashion brands in the world. The latest Chanel designs can be viewed on their website.
Photo of original black dress
Sketch of original black dress as appeared in Vogue
Coco Chanel quote
Women Banned from Wearing Pants in Paris
Coco Chanel’s biography